Loaded Cauliflower

Loaded Cauliflower

Loaded Cauliflower

Hi folks, welcome to a new week.  It’s Monday Funday, meatless Monday.  Are you getting tired of trying to come up with something new and delicious, but meatless?   Is your family groaning over the same old same old?  How many of you would be satisfied with a loaded baked potato?  You know, with sour cream, bacon bits, grated cheddar cheese, chives, etc, etc.  Oh, yeah, and all those calories……?

Suppose I told you  you can have all that without the extra calories and carbohydrate you get with a potato.  Just put all that good stuff on …..wait now…..cauliflower!   Cauliflower is the new potato, thus we have loaded cauliflower.   What’s not to love about that!!

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This recipe is rather unique, and a little off-beat, but when it comes to reducing our carbohydrate intake and calories,  off-beat is good.  And it’s a great way to add some zip to cauliflower.

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Yield:   Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp. dry Ranch Salad dressing mix
  • 1 Tbsp. butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped green onion, green part only

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Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 350*F.   Lightly spray a 9-inch baking dish.

2.  Place a steamer insert into a saucepan and fill with water to just below the bottom of the steamer.  Bring water to a boil.  Add cauliflower, and steam until very tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Steam cauliflower till tender.

Steam cauliflower till tender.

Transfer to a bowl, break up into florets and drain any excess water.

I spread mine out in a baking dish.

I spread mine out in a baking dish.

3.  Mix cauliflower with sour cream, cheese, ranch dressing mix, onion and garlic powders.  Transfer to the prepared baking dish.  Top with pieces of butter.

I mixed up the topping and spooned it over the cauliflower in the baking dish,

I mixed up the topping and spooned it over the cauliflower in the baking dish,

4.  Bake in the preheated oven until bubbling, about 30 minutes.

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Before serving, sprinkle with chopped green onions.  I added some fine unseasoned bread crumbs.

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This is so good.  Just like eating a baked potato with all your favorite toppings.

SOURCE:   AllRecipes.com

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Cauliflower Fritters

Cauliflower Fritters

Cauliflower Fritters

If it looks like a potato pancake and it tastes like a potato pancake, it must be a potato pancake, right?   Wrong!!  These are cauliflower fritters, and they are delicious.  Similar to the taste of a potato pancake, they make a fabulous side dish–we loved them!

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As a continuation of my posts about cauliflower, I have this one for you.   Another way to use this versatile vegetable and reap it’s health benefits in a fun way.

You can use either a bag of frozen cauliflower, or cook up some fresh cauliflower, mash, then mix with hash brown potatoes, cheese, onions, whole wheat flour and eggs.  Use just enough oil to sauté them in a fry pan, and you will have crispy fritters.  I made a dipping sauce to go with them that enhanced their presentation and flavor.  I find it amazing how versatile cauliflower is and how it can mimic potatoes or rice.  It makes a great stand-in for either of them with far fewer calories and carbohydrates.

CAULIFLOWER FRITTERS

Yield:  Makes 8 – 10 fritters

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium head cauliflower, or 1 (10-oz.) package frozen cauliflower
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped in small diceIMG_6933
  • 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 3/4 cup shredded hash brown potatoes, thawed if frozen
  • 1/2 cup shredded white cheddar cheese
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil

For the dipping sauce:

  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt (0%, or 2% fat is okay)
  • 2 tablespoons minced green onions
  • 2 tablespoons canola mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 – 2 dashes hot sauce, optional

Directions:

1.  Prepare cauliflower as package directs if frozen, or bring to a boil and cook until tender if using fresh.

2.  Place cauliflower in a large bowl and mash with a potato masher.  Stir in onion, flour, garlic, salt, pepper, lemon zest, potatoes, cheese and eggs.  Mix to combine well.

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3.  Form into 8 – 10 patties.  I used a large spoon, and dropped lumps of batter into the skillet, then flattened them slightly with a spatula. Using this method, I got 10 fritters.

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4.  Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add oil and swirl to coat.  Cook patties 4 minutes on each side or until nicely browned.  Repeat with remaining batter.

5.  Make dipping sauce:  Combine yogurt, 1/8 tsp. salt, and remaining ingredients.  Serve sauce with fritters.

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SOURCE:  adapted from Skinny Taste

Cauliflower Soup

Cauliflower Soup

Cauliflower Soup

A cold stormy day calls for hot soup. We were hit with an unexpected snow storm the other day that threw everyone into a tizzy. What is it that is so often said about the last day of March, “out like a lamb”?  Not this one. The lion roared again and tied up traffic for miles with multiple accidents. What did I do? I stayed home and sent a barrage of e-mails to the Weather Goddess. Enough is enough, Mother Nature. Check your calendar; it’s Spring!!  😀

Mr. D was so thankful for a steaming hot bowl of soup. He said it hit the spot. This soup is healthy and light. It has a creamy texture from the cauliflower and would lead you to think it was loaded with cream, but there’s not a drop of cream in it. I served it with a drizzle of olive oil on top. It would make a light lunch or first course or serve with a sandwich for a full meal as I did.

Serve with a drizzle of olive oil on top.

Serve with a drizzle of olive oil on top.

A serving of this soup is 1 3/4 cup, with 93 calories, 3 g. fat, 12 g carbohydrate.

CAULIFLOWER SOUP

Very few ingredients.

Very few ingredients.

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups reduced sodium chicken broth, (vegetarians can use vegetable broth)
  • 1 medium head of cauliflower chopped into florets (1 1/2 – 2 pounds)
  • kosher salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste

Directions:

1. In a large saucepan or soup kettle, melt the butter over low heat. Add the onions and sauté until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the flour and cook about 1 to 2 minutes.

2. Add the chicken broth and cauliflower and increase heat to medium-high. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer over medium-low heat until vegetables are tender (about 20 minutes.) Turn off the heat.

Cook the cauliflower in the chicken broth.

Cook the cauliflower in the chicken broth.

3. Puree with an immersion blender until smooth, or use a regular blender and puree in small batches. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste.

Puree the cooked cauliflower with a blender.

Puree the cooked cauliflower with a blender.

Cauliflower Soup

Cauliflower Soup

 

SOURCE: adapted from Skinny Taste

Flower Power

Roasted Cauliflower with Cranberries and Crispy Onions

Roasted Cauliflower with Cranberries and Crispy Onions

Cauliflower is a beautiful thing!!  With its bunches of tightly clustered florets snuggled into green leaves, cauliflower looks somewhat like a flower.  Cauliflower comes in colors other than white–and with added nutrients.  Orange and green cauliflower provide us with beta carotene.  Green cauliflower also has a little more protein.  Purple cauliflower  gets its color from anthocyanins, said to improve memory.  Since its color fades with cooking, you will get the most benefits by eating it raw.

Cauliflower has been called the “skinny starch”.  It has 16 % less carbs and 79 % fewer calories per 1/2 cup than potatoes.  It also has lots of pectin– the same stuff that thickens jams and jellies–so pureed cooked cauliflower has a velvety texture that adds body to soups, and mimics potatoes when mashed.  Cauliflower may also be shredded or finely chopped, then lightly sautéed to make a low-carb “rice” or “couscous”.

If you prepare cauliflower with a sense of adventure, its mild flavor and unique texture allow it to take the place of other higher calorie, higher-starch foods in  winter dishes.  Forget basic steamed florets.  In this recipe you will see that roasty-browned cauliflower mixes well with dried cranberries and crispy French fried onions to make a side dish that goes well with just about any main entree.

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ROASTED CAULIFLOWER WITH CRANBERRIES AND CRISPY ONIONS

Yield:   Makes 6 – 8 servingsIMG_6629

Ingredients:

  • 1 large head of cauliflower
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3/4 cup French Fried onions, divided
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries, divided
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped pistachios, divided
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 375*F.

2.  Cut cauliflower into small bite-size florets.  Place on a large baking sheet and toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper.   Roast for 10 minutes.  Remove cauliflower from oven.  Add 1/2 cup of the French fried onions to the cauliflower on the baking sheet and toss to mix.  Place the remaining 1/4 cup onions off to one side of the baking sheet (these will be used as garnish.)   Roast mixture an additional 10 minutes or until cauliflower reaches desired tenderness and onions are brown and crispy.

3.  In a small bowl, combine ricotta cheese with 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.

4.  Set aside 2 tablespoons each of dried cranberries and pistachios ( these will be used as garnish).

5.  In a medium bowl, toss warm cauliflower mixture with dried cranberries and pistachios.  Spoon ricotta mixture on top and fold gently, leaving large bits of ricotta.  Garnish with reserved cranberries, pistachios and crispy onions.  Serve immediately.

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SOURCE:   Eating Well

Braised Cauliflower and Squash Penne Pasta

One of the items I always keep in my pantry is at least one box of chicken broth.  I reach for it when I make a quick sauce or to moisten a leftover casserole.  But more important it’s the way to fast flavorful dinners.  Obviously its used in soups, but I also use it to whip up dishes like risotto, or a one-pot meal such as the one I have for you today.

Braised Cauliflower & Squash Penne Pasta

Braised Cauliflower & Squash Penne Pasta

If I had all the time in the world, making my own chicken broth  by simmering meat, bones, and vegetables for hours would be ideal,  but I don’t, so that’s why I love boxed chicken broth.  I have cans of broth on my shelf too, for when only small amounts are needed, and I know I’ll use all of it, but for convenience, you can’t beat the box.  Pop the top and you’re ready to go.   Even when opened it keeps a long time in the refrigerator.   If you haven’t gotten around to trying boxed chicken broth, try it once for the convenience, but be sure to choose one with reduced sodium content.

A satisfying meatless meal.

A satisfying meatless meal.

This recipe for penne pasta with cauliflower and butternut squash goes together quickly, is a wonderful combination of flavors, and best of all the pasta cooks right in the broth with the vegetables, getting all that extra flavorful.  The starch from the pasta combines with the broth as it simmers and creates a thickened silky sauce.  And because its all cooked in one pot, cleanup is a breeze.  The dish can be vegetarian/vegan by using vegetable broth instead of the chicken, but expect the sauce to be a little bit darker in color.

We loved this dish as a meatless meal, served with a green salad,  but it would also be a great side dish to baked chicken, pork or fish.

BRAISED CAULIFLOWER AND SQUASH PENNE PASTA

Yield:   Makes 4 servings

Just a few ingredients.

Just a few ingredients.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 4 cups chicken broth, or vegetable broth
  • 8 ounces whole-wheat penne pasta (about 3 cups)
  • 2 cups cauliflower florets, about 1-inch size
  • 2 cups peeled butternut squash, cut about 1-inch size pieces
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup shredded Romano cheese

Directions:

1.  Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.   Add garlic, thyme and crushed red pepper and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

2.  Add broth, penne, cauliflower and squash.  ( a quick side note:  I roasted my squash with red onions and a little olive oil, to caramelize it and intensify the flavor, then added it to the cauliflower and pasta mixture at the end.)

Add cauliflower and  pasta to the pan with chicken broth.

Add cauliflower and pasta to the pan with chicken broth.

Bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to a lively simmer and cook, uncovered, until the pasta is tender and the liquid is thickened and greatly reduced, 14 to 16 minutes.  Remove from heat, stir in pepper and let stand for 5 minutes.  Serve topped with cheese.

Serve topped with grated Romano cheese.

Serve topped with grated Romano cheese.

SOURCE:   Eating Well

Maple Soy Salmon with Roast Cauliflower

Maple-Soy Salmon

Maple-Soy Salmon

Since I went  a little hog-wild at the supermarket and purchased a lot of different forms of citrus fruits, now I’m in the situation of trying to use them in as many ways as possible.  Eating them peeled and sectioned “out of hand” and in fruit salads is a given.  A tangerine, a Mineola, or a clementine  make a quick snack any time.  I’ve already shared with you my recipe for Lemon Cream Squares here, so this week I will be featuring recipes that contain other forms of citrus.

Roast Cauliflower with Clementines, Cranberries, and Pistachios

Roast Cauliflower with Clementines, Cranberries, and Pistachios

One of the recent dinners I made was this one, Soy Maple Salmon with Roast Cauliflower.  Even  though you see no mention of a citrus in the title it’s there none the less, in both the salmon part and the cauliflower.  We thought this meal was fabulous and one that I want to repeat again soon.  During this season when seafood is also plentiful, I try to prepare a fish item at least once per week.  The total calories for these two items is under 400 calories, and only 18 Gm. Carbohydrate.  There is a bargain of goodness in this meal any way you look at it.

In planning my time to prepare this meal I found that if I roasted the cauliflower and made a salad while the salmon was marinating, I could then pop the salmon in the hot oven, finish the cauliflower dish and dress the  salad.

SOY-MAPLE SALMON

SERVINGS:    4

Marinating the salmon.

Marinating the salmon.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2  Tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2  Tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh orange juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 4   4-5 ounce salmon fillets

1.   Mix all the ingredients (except salmon) plus  2 Tablespoons water in a large bowl or zip-lock baggie.  Add the salmon and turn to coat.  Allow this to marinate in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes.

2.   When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 400*F.   Coat a rimmed pan with cooking spray.  Drain the fish, season with salt and pepper and place on the prepared baking sheet.  Bake until slightly golden and beginning to crisp around the edges, 8 – 10 minutes.  The salmon should be moist, and flake easily with a fork.

Note:  Salmon will be baked after cauliflower at a lower oven temperature.

ROAST CAULIFLOWER WITH CLEMENTINES, CRANBERRIES AND PISTACHIOS

SERVINGS:   4

INGREDIENTS

Cauliflower brushed with oil and ready for the oven.

Cauliflower brushed with oil and ready for the oven.

  • 1 small head cauliflower, trimmed and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slabs
  • 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 clementines, zested and segmented
  • 2 Tablespoons dried cranberries
  • 2 Tablespoons whole or chopped pistachios
  • 1 teaspoon zest from clementines
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

1.    Preheat oven to 450*F.  Arrange cauliflower on a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer and brush with 2 Tablespoons olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Roast, flipping once, about half way through cooking time, until tender and a little charred at edges, about 25 minutes.

Cauliflower after roasting.

Cauliflower after roasting.

2.  Transfer to a serving platter with clementine segments and cover with foil to keep warm.  Turn down oven heat to 400*F to cook salmon.

3.  In a small saucepan, heat the remaining 1 Tablespoon olive oil, add the cranberries, pistachios, clementine zest, and a little salt and pepper to taste. Stir to heat through.  When ready to serve, drizzle over the cauliflower and clementines.  Sprinkle with chopped parsley.

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This dinner entree is a mash-up of two recipes that I put together with some major modifications.

SOURCES:   Salmon:   Food Network Magazine;   Cauliflower:  Whole Living Magazine

Eat Your Veggies

There are members of my family who are not particularly fond of vegetables, and they were going to be present at a family end-of-summer cookout.  I was asked to bring a salad.  Whenever this happens I try to bring one that includes vegetables in an appetizing, attractive form, hoping to entice them to eat their veggies.  This salad was a winner with everyone.  Once I placed it on the serving table it began to disappear very quickly so I didn’t get a good picture of the whole salad.  What you see here is the small amount that was left.     This is one salad  I know I will be making again and again.

Most people seem to like raw vegetables with a dip and my salad is a riff on that idea.  All the vegetables are raw plus there are cranberries for a little sweetness, peanuts for some extra crunch, and bacon for that smoky, salty taste.  For a vegetarian version, just omit the bacon.  The slightly sweet dressing pulls everything together and enhances it beautifully.

RAW VEGETABLE SALAD WITH CREAMY DRESSING

SERVES   10 – 12

INGREDIENTS–SALAD

  • 3 cups chopped raw broccoli
  • 3 cups chopped raw cauliflower
  • 3 cups chopped celery
  • 1 10 ounce package frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 cup dried cranberries, such as Craisins
  • 1 cup dry-roasted peanuts, or raw peanuts
  • 6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

INGREDIENTS–DRESSING

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon white vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons grated onion
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 & 1/2 cup mayonnaise

TO ASSEMBLE

1.  Combine all the vegetables and cranberries in a large salad bowl.

2.  Whisk together all the ingredients for the dressing.

3.  Pour the dressing over the salad.  Add the bacon and peanuts.  Toss to coat with dressing.  Serve chilled.

SOURCE:  All-Recipes.com

Cauliflower au Gratin

When I first tasted this dish I was struck by the combination of flavors and textures that work so well together.  Since cauliflower,  as a vegetable on its own can be rather bland, in my opinion, it needs to be enhanced by other flavors or seasonings to give it some punch.  By preparing it as an au gratin,  cheese in the sauce provides the contrasting flavor, and the smooth creaminess of the sauce adds a strong contrast in texture.  So too does the crunchy breadcrumb topping.

Preparing this dish is not difficult, but does require several steps.  Plan on about an hour to make it.

To begin wash a head of cauliflower  removing the leaves and tough inner core.  Leave the head whole, and place in a sauce pan large enough to hold it.  Add about an inch of water to the pan, season with a little salt, and bring to a boil.  Cook until just barely tender, so cauliflower will hold its shape.  Drain water and place cauliflower in a baking casserole;  one which has room for the added sauce.

While cauliflower is cooking, begin to make your sauce.  This is a béchamel sauce, or in Italian called balsamella. This is basically a white sauce to which I’ve added cheese.   Mine is a simplified version which is easy to prepare, and if you wish you can make a double recipe and have some left for another use, such as Eggs Benedict,  or asparagus with Hollandaise sauce, or use in a pasta casserole.

BECHAMEL SAUCE

  • 2 2/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 cups warm milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • pinch white pepper
  • pinch ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
  1. In a medium saucepan melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the flour and whisk until smooth, about 2 minutes.
  2. Gradually add the warm milk, whisking constantly to prevent lumps from forming.  Continue to cook over low-medium heat, whisking constantly, until sauce is thick, smooth, and creamy, about 10 minutes.  Do not allow sauce to boil.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in salt, pepper and nutmeg.   Add additional salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste.
  4. Gradually stir in grated cheese,  allowing each addition to melt in the sauce before adding more.  (Note:  This sauce can be made up to 3 days ahead.  Cool, then cover and refrigerate.)
  5. Pour the sauce over the cauliflower in the baking dish.
CRUMB TOPPING
  • 1/2 cup seasoned fine bread crumbs or Panko crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
  1. Combine crumbs with melted butter.  Sprinkle evenly over cauliflower.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes until cauliflower is tender and crumbs are nicely browned.

Cauliflower, The Royal Vegetable

How many of you grew up eating ( or not eating) that white vegetable that looked so bland and had a cabbagey taste?  Me, too!  Definitely, not one of my favorites.  Until one day in the cafeteria at work I met Cauliflower au Gratin bathed in a cheesy sauce, with a crunchy crumb topping. AHHH!  That’s more like it.  I fell in love, and became determined to learn how to make it.

Did you know that cauliflower actually has aristocratic roots?  It was first popularized in the Royal Court of France, when Countess Jeanne du Barry, mistress of King Louis, XV, became enamored with it.  On restaurant menus any dish which features cauliflower may be called “du Barry” in her honor.

Like many nobles, cauliflower can be rather fussy.  It gets easily “sunburned” while still growing in the garden, unless the farmer ties the leaves of each individual crown to cover and shield it from the sun, lest it become yellowed.  Once harvested, however, it is less fussy. Easily prepared in a variety of ways, cauliflower can be dressed plain, or fancy to bring out its sophisticated flavor.

Not to be overlooked, is the nutrient value of cauliflower.  It is loaded with a cancer-fighting chemical which can help destroy cancer cells.  Add to that it is low in calories, high in fiber, and contains healthy amounts of vitamins C and K.  All excellent reasons to learn to love cauliflower if you don’t already.  Perhaps I can entice you with my recipe for Cauliflower Au Gratin, which follows in the next post.